Gulf seafood industry create unique coalition –

Gulf seafood industry create unique coalition Published:  14 October, 2013

THE Gulf of Mexico seafood industry in the United States have joined together in a pact almost unprecedented for a  fishing industry anywhere.

Dozens of chefs, restaurant owners, fishermen, seafood industry leaders and conservationists have come together to form a coalition to raise awareness and support for on those who depend on fair access to fresh Gulf seafood. This also includes American seafood consumers.Called Share the Gulf , the move is an effort initiated in part as a response to a proposal in front of regulators at the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council to take fresh Gulf fish away from seafood counters that are supplied by family-owned commercial fishing businesses that catch red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico.Chef Stephen Stryjewski of New Orlean’s based Cochon and Pêche Seafood Grilland founding chef chair of the coalition. said: “This is a coalition of people and groups from across the Gulf that care about making sure access to the Gulf’s resources are shared fairly and sustainably.” Red snapper – a popular species in the US – is a shared fishery split almost evenly between commercial and recreational fishermen. The coalition argues that due to an oudated data collection system the reactional fishermen have been caught in a failed management system which produces inaccurate information on the amount of fish caught. This results in the seasons being shortened each year.Jim Gossen, Chairman of Houston-based Sysco Louisiana Seafood and a Gulf Seafood Institute (GSI) board member said: “This coalition is a great opportunity to bring together fishermen, chefs and consumers to voice the importance of seafood to Texas and the rest of the Gulf,” said . “Our goal is to make sure fishery managers continue the practice of fair regulations that sustain the resource for the people depending on it.”He claimed that while the vast majority of recreational and commercial fishermen believe in sharing the Gulf’s resources, a few groups have suggested taking fish from consumers and reserve it for offshore recreational fishing as a solution to the problem. Share the Gulf, whose goal is to ensure Gulf seafood continues to be shared fairly and sustainably to be enjoyed for generations to come, disagrees.“We have worked to build a healthy and sustainable commercial fishery for red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico,” said Bubba Cochrane a commercial fisherman from Galveston, Texas. Mr Cochrane, who is also President of the Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders’ Alliance added: “The plans in front of the Council will hurt fishing businesses and consumers and set a dangerous precedent.”In 2007, the Gulf’s commercial red snapper fishery implemented a self-management program helping the population recover from a long-standing depleted status. The allocation system has allowed commercial fishermen to fish smarter, as well as continuously year round.If red snapper, grouper or other reef fish are taken away from commercial fishing businesses, seafood suppliers, restaurants and retailers that rely on them; the consequences could be devastating to the Gulf’s seafood industry.“It’s not just fishermen who depend on red snapper, grouper and other Gulf fish,” said Chef Hugo Ortega of Houston’s Backstreet Cafe and Hugo’s and a coalition co-chair. “Being able to buy fresh Gulf seafood is important to my business and important to the customers I serve.